Georgia Gardener Newsletter Design Tip: September 20, 2007

Mums The Word: Fall Color With Chrysanthemums
Dendranthema spp.

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Species Native Range: Most are hybrids of Garden Origin
Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-9 +/-, but often grown as a fall annual
Mature Size: 12-24 inches tall and wide; varied
Exposure: Full sun
Soil: Rich, well-drained
Ease of Culture: Easy

It's finally fall and one of the most common flowers associated with fall are mums. The garden centers are just beginning to be filled with a vast number of varieties and colors that are too numerous to list here.

Although technically perennial, many people use mums as a source of fall color that can be replaced after frost with winter annuals. Being a self-described cheap and lazy gardener, I like to treat mums as perennial allotting them a "permanent" location in the garden.

A quick check of the National Chrysanthemum Society web site lists 13 classes of mums as defined by flower structure. However, the most commonly available forms are: Each of these "classes" comes in a variety of colors and blooming season. Bloom seasons are labeled as early, mid, late or very late. Early season would be early to mid September, mid season is late September to early October, late season would be the remainder of October with very late going into November until we have our first frost. Of course, this can be affected slightly by temperature and rainfall. Occasionally, mums will bloom in early summer and then repeat in the fall.

Gretchen Mum: Early Season PomponUnknown Mid Season Single

Plant mums in average to rich, well-drained garden soil in full sun. They also make great container plants. If you decide to grow your mums as perennials, fertilize them when new growth appears in the spring. To help them be fuller and a bit shorter, pinch them back to about 4-6 inches tall in late May and again to 8 or so inches tall about six weeks later. They can be cut back to the ground after the first hard frost. Divide mums every 3-4 years to maintain their vigor.

Mums make great companion plants to late-blooming Salvias, Asters, Sedum Autumn Joy and any other full-sun, fall-blooming plants.

Personal Note: I lost the tag to the single mum above and have been unable to determine the variety. If anyone knows, you can email me.


Garden mums are widely sold in nurseries, home improvement stores, florists and even grocery stores usually beginning in early to mid September.

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